WHAT IS THE TRUE COST OF MEAT?
By Rebecca Libauskas
Big Meat is fattening its bloodstained pockets while meat-eaters are left with higher grocery bills. The White House recently called out the largest meat companies for “pandemic profiteering,” alleging that they are driving up prices, resulting in steep totals at checkout lines across the country. This accusation brings the true cost of meat into focus: With regard to environmental impact, human health and animal welfare, meat is always too expensive. Cutting coupons won’t help — but going vegan will.
Of course, animals are the ones who really pay the price when humans buy meat, cheese and other animal-based foods. Every year in the U.S., more than 29 million cows suffer and die in the meat and dairy industries. Approximately 9 billion chickens are raised and killed for their flesh, and another 376 million hens are raised for their eggs. Millions of pigs spend their lives in small metal crates, with so little space that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. Many animals are subjected to debeaking, dehorning, castration and other mutilations without painkillers. All that pain could be prevented if everyone went vegan.
Going vegan will also help protect the planet. By some estimates, the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined. The United Nations recently warned that widespread reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions are needed to forestall a “code red for humanity.” We can do this simply by not eating meat and other animal-derived foods.
Raising animals to satiate our meat addiction requires massive amounts of land and water. Animal agriculture squanders more than half of the water used in the U.S., which is especially wasteful considering that a NASA study predicts that the West is headed for prolonged drought conditions.
And that’s not all. In the U.S, 87% of all farmland is used to raise animals for food and about 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to produce feed for animals.
Rather than growing feed for farmed animals, humans would be better off producing healthy vegan food for ourselves.If we all consumed a vegan diet instead of one based on animal-derived foods, we could save up to 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by two-thirds and prevent climate-related damages of $1.5 trillion.
We might also prevent future pandemics.
Experts believe that COVID-19 began in a “wet market,” at which customers can choose live animals to purchase and wait while they are slaughtered. Typically, animals in these markets are stressed and often injured or sick. They’re called “wet markets” because feces, urine and blood seep out of the cages, creating an ideal breeding ground for pathogens.
REMEMBER: ALL animals feel physical pain, experience loneliness, sadness and fear.
Three out of every four emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals and are caused by our use of animals for food. The World Health Organization predicts that as long as humans rely on animals for food and profit, pandemics are inevitable.
Eating meat can also lead to heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and even impotence, and research reveals that those who consume animal-based foods have a higher mortality rate than those who eat vegan.
While some families are feeling the strain of increased grocery bills thanks to Big Meat, the real price of meat is much higher. Perhaps the surging meat prices will inspire more people to select vegan options, which are better for animals, the environment and human health.
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